If the Rails Were Still There

Anything pertaining to railfanning in Michigan.
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AARR
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by AARR »

It's possible I'm confusing the stored out of service vs. scrapped dates on the engines. I like the idea of acquiring stored out of service AA/TSBY GP35's and putting them back into service. However, perhaps it would make more sense if I acquired some of the rebuilt GP35's from SOU that TSBY bought and sold.

An asphalt/petroleum terminal was in Elberta starting around 1992 until around 2004 using land where the old ferry staging yard was located. Petroleum products was shipped from Indiana and stored there. It was a large storage terminal capable of storing 268,000 barrels of product IIRC. Maybe that would make more sense than a refinery. It's timing would make more sense and although traffic would be less it still could be substantial enough to justify keeping the line open.

It'd be nice to have another large shipper in Elberta to go with an asphalt customer. Canning plant perhaps? I couldn't realistically convert the log yard into a major customer since all the product came from MI locations.

The sand pit in Harlan is still there but unused since the 1980's. The equipment sat there for many years but I don't know if it's still there. However, Sargant's is operating a sand pit around Ludington so reopening the one in Harlan is realistic. So are the car volumes.

The incinerator idea was considered however the trash was supposed to come from Green Bay by barge to Elberta then trucked to Thompsonville. I like my idea better. :)

What are your ideas to make this more fluid?
Steve B wrote:
Sat Aug 01, 2020 5:41 pm
AARR wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 7:27 pm
...
The line from Yuma to Elberta was acquired in the late 1980's when TSBY abandoned it. It was pretty much dormant other than an occasional inspection ride until the late 1990s...oil refinery was built where the old ferry "staging yard" was in Elberta...387 was acquired after a wreck on TSBY in the late 1990's...
chapmaja wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 2:05 pm
The Elberta and Lake Michigan.
Some interesting concepts! Though, I don't see how an oil refinery on the Elberta waterfront would have gotten approved on any government level. There indeed was a pulpwood loading operation there for a bit. I remember reading about the proposed incinerator and trash train to Thompsonville. However, your timeline might need adjusting a bit, since Frankfort-Thompsonville was ripped up in about 1994. The state called all the shots on the end of service up there; TSBY might have remained OK with the occasional trip to Frankfort but the state didn't want to maintain that long stretch anymore. Also, both 387 and 386 were unserviceable by the end of 1982 at the latest.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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Standard Railfan
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

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I recall Shell oil took over the former Ann Arbor fuel storage facility at Elberta to store crude oil for shipment by barge. This facility was later converted to asphalt storage. There didn’t seem to be much opposition to Shell’s facility since the AA tanks were already in place.

jldominique
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

Unread post by jldominique »

Is this topic specific to Michigan, I'm from Ohio and there are a couple of lines that I wonder what could have been if the rails where still there.

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AARR
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

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OH is fine. I have a paper railroad called Detroit, Lima & Cincinnati after the old DT&I. But you can go first :) .
jldominique wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 9:49 am
Is this topic specific to Michigan, I'm from Ohio and there are a couple of lines that I wonder what could have been if the rails where still there.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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AARR
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

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Alma, Edmore & Remus Railroad

Acquired the line from Elwell to Edmore and northwest to Remus around 1987 when MMRR abandoned it. Acquired Elwell to Alma North Jct. around 2006 when MMRR abandoned it after the elevator there closed.

Interchanged exclusively with MMRR at Elwell. After acquiring rest of line to Alma we now have trackage rights on GLC to their Wright Siding and with MMRR in Alma Yard via a connection at Alma South Jct. and trackage rights.

Power is an old Chessie GP7. It's old but still reliable. Although the crew would prefer a GP38. If I find one in great condition for the right price I'll probably buy one.

There's a couple small elevators between Elwell and Edmore that have been small off and on again customers. Currently the small fertilizer dealer in Vestaburg gets about a dozen or so cars a year.

Hitachi in Edmore received clay until around 2010 or so when they closed. During most of those years they would receive 1-2 cars every other week. At the end they were receiving a carload a month.

PCA in Edmore gets most of their materials by truck from their Manistee mill. However, they average 1-4 cars a week from other mills and have been a steady shipper from the beginning. They have two docks so get switched twice a week if necessary.

On the north-south line a small fertilizer dealer on the south side of town gets 12-15 cars annually.

Shortly after taking over the line west of Elwell Cargill built a large elevator about one mile south of town and can ship unit trains. Initially they could handle 65 car blocks but have been modified to handle 90 now. We have to borrow/rent more engines to handle the occasional unit trains. We get them from MMRR if using their routing or TSBY/GLC if using theirs. Initially most unit trains went to MMRR however over the last 10 years or so most now go to GLC. After several expansion over they years they average 1,500-2,000 cars annually.

North of Edmore there is a team track in Millbrook that used to ship a carload of sweet oil every other week or so. However, they haven't shipped anything in a while despite expansions at their plant. We are talking to them about trying rail again using our GLC-AA connections.

There is a cheese plant in Remus that receives 2-4 cars a week of additives. They have been a steady shipper from the beginning.

Operations is once a week between Edmore/Remus and our interchanges with GLC (Wright Siding) and MMRR (Alma Yard). PCA gets an extra switch per week normally. Cars for Cargill (15-90 car blocks) average about 3 a month. It can take up to 24 hours to pick up the empties at their staging yard (Wright Siding or Alma Yard), go to the elevator, switch the cars for loading then return to the interchange location. There are a couple people who work for GLC/MMRR that will work the extra shift so we can get the cars back in 24 hours rather than wait until the next day. There's an incentive savings for doing so.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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AARR
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

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Petoskey Central

Acquired the ex-MIGN line from Bay View to Pellston around 1987 when they shutdown due to financial issues. Algoma Steel was transloading drilling and sewer pipe in Pellston and wanted to build a factory that would receive steel pipe from it's plant in Sault Ste. Marie (by truck because ferry service at Mackinaw City had ended) and coat it with a plastic lining. At the same time we acquired the ex-Chessie line from Bay View to Charlevoix that had been closed due to a washout. The three customers on that segment (Petoskey Gas, Petosekey Plastics and Big Rock Nuclear) were transloading from other locations.

Fortunately, at the time, hostility toward rail service wasn't severe and the steel pipe coating plant was built. The three customers on the Bay View west segment invested with me in rebuilding the line at the washout location.

We use a pair of ex-MIGN/AC GP7's. 1605 and 1606. They were replaced by a pair of ex-CR GP38's in the late 1990's. They have since been modified several times and currently are Environmental 4 compliant. They have extended radiator grills like an SD45. The locals insisted on these features to continue running through Petoskey. Fortunately, we were awarded a state grant to help pay for the final modifications. The crew loves these engines!

Since its completion the steel pipe coating plant has steadily shipped 13-20 cars a week of various products including drilling pipe and sewer pipe. Loads go out on 60' & 90' flat cars, bulkhead flat cars and gondolas. They also receive a carload a week of liquid polymer that is used to coat the steel.

We've attempted to establish more transload business at Pellston but nothing has ever stuck. Lumber from the UP went for a few years but that business ended when they got a better rate from another railroad in the UP.

Petoskey Gas, located near the old engine terminal in Petoskey, was a good customer. The increased shipments from about 50 a year to 150 when we invested in increasing the siding capacity from 2 to 6 cars. They were bought by Petrolane in the early 90's and continued rail service until acquired by Amerigas who switched completely to trucks. Their run around siding is still in place although in poor shape. However, it wouldn't take a large investment to return it to service if rail service ever resumes.

Petoskey Plastics remains a good customer. Business started out at 1-2 cars per week. After an expansion it increased to 1-3 cars a week. Later, additional expansions have increased their shipments to 3-5 cars per week.

Big Rock Nuclear would receive 1-2 shipments in and/or out of equipment annually. There was also an occasional 5-6 car block of nuclear waste shipment (usually once a year) that would bring the protestors out enmass. They shutdown around 2010. The last shipments from there was contaminated concrete and dirty dirt. We got several hundred carloads of that stuff (again, bringing out the protestors). The tracks have since been removed west of Petoskey Plastics and are now a bike trail. This makes Jetlink, SW and ~Z~ happy :) .

Although the locals have been tolerant of most of our ideas one that we couldn't get through was keeping the line in from the Charlevoix drawbridge to the cement plant south of Charlevoix. It sounds strange but I service that plant from the south with 50ish miles of track from Traverse City. The ends of both lines are about 10 miles apart and that's the story why.

Service averages 2x per week. Interchange is with GLC (formerly TSBY) at a siding south of town known as Foremans. We try to meet the GLC crew at the same time to swap cars. It's a single passing siding and when we are bringing in 90 flat cars it's a snug fit (which is why sometimes there's a 3rd trip there in a week). Often, some switching is required in Pellston at the plant on off-days.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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AARR
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Re: If the Rails Were Still There

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Grand Rapids & Jackson

Originally acquired Grand Rapids (44th St.) to Eaton Rapids. Connected with CR at both ends and CN in Charlotte. Acquired Eaton Rapids to Rives Jct. around 1984. Acquired 44th St. to Burton Yard Jct. in the late 1990's.

Started out with 2 ex-CR GP7's. In the late 90's acquired 3 ex-CR GP38's and had them rebuilt to -3 standards.

Between Rives Jct. and Eaton Rapids Eaton Rapids Casting opened a modern foundry in 2014 and make windmills. They have grown rapidly and are on target in 2020 to ship out 3,000 loads. Keep in mind each load usually has a idler car in-between so a typical windmill requires 5 loaded cars and 5 idlers. A typical set is 10 90' flat cars. They also receives pig iron and some scrap metal amounting to about 450 cars a year.

Michigan Packaging in Eaton Rapids was added in 1984 when we acquired the CR Eaton Rapids to Rives Jct. line. Over the years traffic has steadily increased from 4-5 cars per week to 7-10 cars per week.

Eaton Farm Bureau was an original customer and has grown from 350-500 cars annually to 1,100-1,400. Their in plant trackage hasn't changed and can only load 5 cars at a time so when they receive cars (15-90) it can take all day shuffling cars back and forth from the nearby passing siding. Fertilizer shipments have also tripled to 36-45 per year. The dry fertilizer spur only holds 2 cars so it takes several switches to unload their typical 6 car block.

The Citizens elevator in downtown Charlotte is connected to the CN interchange track but crosses our mainline. Technically they are our customer but haven't shipped anything in years although their spur is still in place.

Johnson Lumber still has a spur, albeit in poor condition, but haven't received anything in years.

Vermontville is where Citizens has a large elevator. They started out shipping 150-200 cars annually but have grown steadily and now ship over 1,500 cars during a good year. They've also invested in a fertilizer terminal receiving 25-30 cars a year of dry fertilizer and 40-50 cars of liquid. A long passing siding was built in the late 90's to facilitate loading a 65 car unit train in two cuts. However, when that increased to 90 car units, due to the road, the cars have to be loaded in three cuts.

There were a few small shippers over the years between Vermontville and Hastings that stopped using rail and their spurs are removed.

West of Hastings is Flexflab which opened in 2000. They receive 1-3 cars per week of chemicals.

The Bradford White plant in Middleville has shipped by truck since we began operation. Even though we've identified the potential to ship 600 cars a year from there they love their trucks and won't consider changing at this time. The spur is still in place but in very poor condition and the track into their building is removed.

In Caledonia, Caledonia Farmers Elevator is an original customer shipping 50-60 cars a year. In 2015 a loop track was built southeast of their elevator to service a large Green Valley Ag fertilizer terminal. Caledonia Farmers Elevator built a huge elevator there and ship 1,100-1,400 cars a year. They can load a 90 car unit in a single move. They always received a few car loads of fertilizer and that's up to 25-30 cars a year. Recently, they added a feed mill to their property and are receiving about 150 cars annually of cotton seed and meal. The cotton seed comes in large open top gondolas with tarps covering them.

Green Valley Ag was located near Caledonia Farmers Elevator but never received anything by rail. Around 2015 they opened a large fertilizer terminal on the above mentioned loop track southeast of town (where CFE added grain storage/loading). GVA receives 4-5 80 car blocks of dry fertilizer per year and 4-5 60 car blocks of nitrogen. Those cars are unloaded on the loop track.

At one time there were a few small customers between Caledonia and Grand Rapids but all those spurs are removed.

After taking over the line from 44th St. to Burton Yard Jct. in the late 90's (from CR just before their break up) we persuaded the large bakery to move their transload on a siding next to their building (away from Burton Yard). They receive 11-16 cars a week of various ingredients (wheat, sugar, salt).

A drywall distributer on the 44th St. segment recently started using rail again. We expect them to receive 20-30 cars annually.

There is a small lumber yard near the drywall distributer that still gets a handful of cars per year.

Bata Plastics, located on the old spur to Steelcase, started receiving pellets by rail. We expect them to receive about 2 cars per month.

When we acquired the line to Rives Jct. we were granted trackage rights into Jackson Yard by CR (the Rives Jct. passing siding had been removed years ago). When ADBF outbid us for the Lansing Secondary from NS in 2010 they (and NS) took away our trackage rights. It went to court (does that surprise anyone) and we won. But, sometimes NS will be boogers and keep our crews holding at Rives Jct. for hours (we're not allowed to hold on JAIL's track). It's gotten better over time though. ADBF (JAIL) has turned out to be very fair with us after the rough start.

Interchange with CN is usually done at the downtown track. However, for long cuts of cars (15-25 car grain blocks or windmill loads) they granted us trackage rights to the east side of town to use a long industrial siding that was once used to service the Owens Corning glass plant (abandoned around 2010).

We've always had trackage rights into Burton Yard but were given additional trackage rights into CSX's Wyoming Yard in the late 90's (a concession of the CR breakup).

Currently, there is no interchange with either GDLK or JAIL.

Operations is a crew reporting to the Charlotte engine house and going where ever needed that day. Typically they go to Grand Rapids three times a week (to service the bakery and interchange with CSX) and Jackson twice a week. Weekend service is common especially when grain loadings are hot.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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